CBS Saturday Experiment Doesn't Get to Starting Gate

CBS planned to make one of the bolder moves of the new TV season, one that could have set in motion at least a partial strategic shift in the industry. Now, effectively the experiment is over before it started. 

That’s a bummer for viewers. At least, those who can relate to Billy Joel’s “another Saturday night, but I ain’t got noboby” lament and would welcome broadcast TV as a companion.

For years, networks have marginalized Saturdays, mostly running repeats to save money. Fox has offered new episodes of "Cops" and until this year "America's Most Wanted," while CBS has had "48 Hours Mystery." All are relatively inexpensive to produce. 

A few years back, ABC made an inspired move by bringing college football, but that’s an ESPN production, meaning the network has just about ceded the night.

There was barely an original comedy or drama. No, "Silver Spoons," no “Love Boats,” even though both seemed to do just fine some years back.

Then, with its success in comedies, CBS said it would offer the sixth season of “Rules of Engagement” in the Saturday lead-off spot at 8 p.m. If “Rules” indicated an appetite for new scripted shows on Saturdays, networks would have taken notice. TV is a copycat business.

Yet, new episodes of “Rules” on Saturdays never happened.

CBS’s new comedy “How to be a Gentleman" was deemed a failure on Thursdays. So, CBS has shifted it to Saturdays in a defensive move – an unfortunate departure from taking David Spade and “Rules” on offense.

“Rules,” a mid-level hit, will move to Thursdays later this month.

Yes, there will be some new episodes of  “How to be a Gentleman” on Saturdays, but barring something unexpected, that will simply serve as a move to prevent episodes already filmed from going to total waste.

What happens next is officially up in the air, but going with repeats is the safe bet. The New York Times suggested that Fridays may be joining Saturdays as a network afterthought.

Hopefully, next fall CBS will again look to throw the ball downfield on Saturdays. It didn’t even get to the line of scrimmage this time.

Clarification: A TVBlog Oct. 13 should have noted Nielsen's C3 ratings are derived from the average commercial minute for a live broadcast and viewing in time-shifted mode over the ensuing three days. Included is viewing done via DVR and a VOD platform (assuming the VOD feed has the same commercial load and structure as the linear broadcast), as well as online through Extended Screen.

Extended Screen is Nielsen’s national cross-platform measurement initiative to measure viewership conducted on computers (so long as the online content has the same national commercial structure as TV). C3 is a single TV-computer number.

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6 comments about "CBS Saturday Experiment Doesn't Get to Starting Gate".
  1. Terry Price from Terry A. Price Marketing , October 14, 2011 at 5:13 p.m.
    I don't know about Billy Joel, but Sam Cooke sang "another Saturday night and I ain't got nobody." well before the Joel era. picky picky
  2. Darrin Stephens from McMann & Tate , October 14, 2011 at 5:17 p.m.
    Cat Stevens covered the Sam Cooke song during the Joel era, but I don't think Billie ever did a version.
  3. Jim Forkan from Adelphi University , October 14, 2011 at 5:33 p.m.
    Sam Cooke cracked the top 10 in the early '60s with "Another Saturday Night," and Cat Stevens did even better in the '70s. But I don't recall a Billy Joel version. Maybe you should've said "Saturday night's all right for fighting" (Elton John) but not for TV watching... Like the story, nonetheless. I recall NBC's "Golden Girls" was a big hit on Saturdays back in the day, maybe the last big Saturday hit?
  4. Thomas Siebert from WOLFGANG SOLO: Strategic Communications & Benevolent Propaganda , October 14, 2011 at 5:48 p.m.
    Remember when Saturday had All in the Family/Mary Tyler Moore/Bob Newhart/Carol Burnett ? Best night of television ever? tws
  5. T Y from Freelance Producer / DP , October 17, 2011 at 8:34 a.m.
    Tough crowd, David! But I agree with your sentiments and those of TWS of the Best Saturday night ever.
  6. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , November 1, 2011 at 8:41 a.m.
    A good night to spend more money renting/going to a movie...yes, no ? More to it to meet the eye.